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Bryce Felperin

Location: San Jose, CA
Joined: 16 Feb 2006

Posts: 552

PostPosted: Thu 18 Jan, 2007 2:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Reading through the posts I came to another thought....

What is the difference between antiques and replicas but a simple matter of age? IF a sword is functional, it's functional. So who is to say that a replica sword is not potentially valuable sometime in the far future as an "antique" in its own right just due to age?

For example, most antique guns from the nineteenth century were production pieces that are not much different in their manufacture than guns made nowadays. If not for scarsity or history they wouldn't be that much more unique than a new arm made today.

So who is to say that swords manufactured now, in many cases using techniques not much different than those made centuries ago, are not equally likely to be costly antiques in the years to come? Sure the tools are different for manufacture in some regards (belt sanders versus foot or water powered grinding wheels) but the basic techniques or skills for making a sword are probably not much different. The basic materials are the same. The use they are put thru and made for is the same. So what's different between the two but a few years more of use?

In the far future you may not even be able to tell between a 15th century made sword and a 21st century "replica" sword if both have been maintained in the same condition for the whole period. Heck, a lot of armor and weapons made as replicas in the 19th century are considered antiques now too, yet look remarkably alike in museum collections.

So if I was to put into careful storage a good quality sword replica today, it would probably be called an antique in a few hundred years time by those who "discovered" it then.

In the end, the word "antique" is just a name and label. The object of the name is still a tool made by man for a specific purpose, in this case killing people.
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Vincent Le Chevalier

Location: Paris, France
Joined: 07 Dec 2005
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PostPosted: Thu 18 Jan, 2007 3:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote


I think the main difference between antiques and modern replica lies in the knowledge of the people who are making them. Given that there were no continuous sword forging tradition as far as I know (I mean, for a given sword form) to our days, with the possible exception of Japan, swords that are build now are reverse-engineered in a way. That is, measurements are taken on originals, and from those we either try to reproduce faithfully a specific sword, or we figure something average for a class of sword (what Peter Johnsson does for Albion Next Gens if I'm not mistaken). By measurement I do not necessarily mean physical numbers, it could also be a smith that spends some time with an antique to get a feel of it...

The thing is that we do not have anything indicating what properties were deemed important back then. We are also limited by the accuracy of the measurements, and by the state of the antiques. So it could be that we are doing things now that would immediately be judged incorrect by an expert of the days. In fact many people already mentioned that antiques do handle differently from their reproduction sometimes.

Mind you, it could also be that many swords made today are in fact very good by the standards of the past. But how can we know? All we have is the ability to say that they are different, or not. And no one is there to tell us wether this difference is significant.

Remember that today no sword is actually used as it was in the past. That is, by people trained from an early age, to actually fight in earnest. The interruption in sword making is mirrored by one in sword training, so that knowledge was lost. It can be reconstructed, to an extent, and it's a stimulating endeavor, but it's not something we will ever be sure of.

So I wouldn't say that "antique" is just a label. Those swords are the ones that were actually used to do what they were made to do. They will always be the reference. Even if we are not sure of how they were appreciated in the past.

That does not diminish the value of modern replicas. Just as there are people today that are exceptional martial artists, there are modern swords that would be deemed excellent back in the time. But saying which one exactly is, in my opinion, speculation. This doubt taints all the modern swords. So indeed, as work of arts they will be valued as antiques. I think real antiques, that saw use on the field, will remain irreplaceable as martial implements.


Ensis Sub Caelo
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Steve Fabert

Joined: 03 Mar 2004
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PostPosted: Fri 19 Jan, 2007 6:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Someday technology may permit us to manufacture EXACT duplicates of simple inert objects like iron swords. When that day comes, there will still be collectors who prefer an extremely rare original to its perfect copy. If you want to own an example of a type, the difference between the two is less than it would be if your goal is to own an irreplaceable object with a unique individual history.

I have always been satisfied with examples, and have never felt the need to own a weapon that is truly unique. A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to buy some truly unique items, a pair of the pistols that were recovered from the bodies of the Dalton gang after the Coffeyville raid. (They had been stolen from a museum, and then recovered, and technically were owned by the insurance company that had paid the theft loss.) I declined the opportunity and recommended that they go back to the museum in exchange for a refund of the insurance payment. Last I heard they were back where they belonged, in the museum, and I don't feel the loss of the opportunity to add to my collection.

I own some Del Tin swords which are reasonably good copies of specific items that are in museums. Due to the laws governing sword manufacture and sale in Italy, these swords are not even sharp, and therefore cannot be truly accurate, let alone exact, copies. They are still a part of my collection because they exemplify both the individual item and its type. My A&A Type XI sword, with the markings of the coronation sword of the Holy Roman Emperor, is another item that is intended to act as a substitute for both a type and a reproduction of an individual example. It is more functional than the Del Tins, but still serves primarily as a display item rather than a functional item.

All of my Albions are in a different class - they are examples of a type, which I value much more for their functionality than for their appearance. I would not trade them for a wall full of antiques that looked much the same when they were newly made.

While I might not decline the opportunity to purchase a real antique medieval sword if the price was within my budget, I will always feel more comfortable leaving the truly unique items in museums, and keep the 'typical' items in my personal collection.
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